Where the Wild Things Are- False Turkeytail

I wasn't going to go out. The sky was grey, the ground damp from melting snow. If this was spring I would have embraced the forty degrees with enthusiasm. But this was November. After two weeks of cold and snow, hunting and wind, there didn't seem much point to it. But I got on my keep dry clothes and boots, put fresh batteries in the camera and headed out.

It wasn't but a few hundred steps into the woods that the magic came back. On a prickly ash a bit of color caught my eye in the grey landscape. A tiny lichen with beautiful yellow growths. Teloschistes Chrysopthalmus. A really big name for something an inch across.

I started to look at the landscape differently. I scanned for any color that was out of place in the greys and browns. Greens showed up underfoot. Leaves that had been pressed by the weight of the snow. Some plants get a head start on spring by putting out leaves that winter over and catch the first rays of spring sunshine. Some of the grasses and sedges still show up green.

Then, as I wandered into wetter spots, the mosses gleamed. Full of moisture from the recent snow melt they seem as vibrant as they did in the summer. Some look like tiny pine trees, others round blossoms, scarcely a quarter inch across, members of the Rhodobryum family.

I sat, crouched, sometimes laying in the wet leaves to get a shot of these wonders. The cold quickly penetrated my clothes. I walked to warm up and to see more things. I ventured into the wet lands, enjoying the partially frozen hummocks as I was able to walk where earlier I was reluctant to. The tamaracks have lost their needles, leaving the ground covered in gold. Deep red leaves of the bunch berries add a festive touch.

Finally climbing up the hill, I spied a chocolate brown growth. My first thought was turkey tail, a common fungus of the local woods. A closer look revealed that this was very thin, and the chocolate color permeated the plant, front and back. Not Turkey tail, but False Turkeytail, Stereum ostrea! A new one for the list! Not bad for a day when I didn't want to go out....